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How to Improve Your Office Culture

17.07.2018|By Chris Johnson

The millennial and emerging Gen Z workforce now view office culture as a determining factor when making their career choices. Hays, in their 2017 ‘What Workers Want’ survey, revealed that 62% of workers view cultural fit as the most important factor, even more than salary.

Developing a culture policy isn’t something that can be formulated overnight.  It has to be ingrained into the beliefs and ethics of the business. If these beliefs weren’t there to begin with, then starting afresh may need help from an external consultant to help formulate a defined policy, which everyone in the business from the top to the bottom, learns to embrace.

What should a good culture policy incorporate? It should foster great interpersonal relationships between all your staff, it should empower people to express their creativity and talent, it should encourage greater social interaction both in and out of work and it should also look to improve wellbeing. Here are a few ways this can be achieved:

Create a workplace which reflects your new culture

If cultural fit now rivals pay as the most important factor in determining where people choose to work, it goes without saying that creating a thriving, dynamic workplace to attract and retain talent is vital to the success of any business.

After leaving modern, progressive college and university campuses, which are technology enabled and people-focused, it can be a huge culture shock and a regressive step for many young workers when they walk into an outdated office. Indeed, if a millennial or gen z graduate has two or three job offers on the table, all paying a similar amount of money, the determining factor of where they chooser to go will more than likely be the best cultural fit, driven by the workplace and the benefits package being offered by the employer. If you haven’t had a workplace audit in more than five years, we’d strongly recommend getting in touch.

Help staff get to know one another better

It’s proven that if people like each other, then they’ll work better together.  The most successful culture policies explore ways to foster relationships both in and out of the workplace.   Within the office, this means great social space and ‘away from the desk’ areas.  The rise of ‘coffee culture’ has brought Costa and Starbuck’s style café areas into the workplace, replacing tired, old-fashioned canteen and break out spaces.  These multi-functional areas bring people together to socialise, and also to carry out project-based work in a more informal setting.

Outside of work, arranging a mix of regular events and gatherings will also help to cement positive relationships between your people.   At Opus 4, we’ve enjoyed team building exercises which have included trips to the Crystal Maze and to Breakout – an escape room game.  Both are great ways to pit the wits of teams competing against each other in a fun, exciting way.

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We also enjoy themed summer barbecues, trips to the races, yoga sessions, ten pin bowling and meals out after work.  All of these activities help to bring everyone together, regardless of department or age.  Business owners could be forgiven for thinking they are creating a social club, rather than a place of work, but creating an environment where people enjoy each other’s company and coming to work, is shown to actually increase productivity.

Don’t be shy with rewards

If a member of staff does something particularly well, thank them and reward them.  We all appreciate praise.  Giving recognition in the form of a small gift is a subtle way of showing someone they are valued.  It also incentivises staff to work hard.

A small gesture goes a long way.  It could be anything from a bottle of champagne to picking up the bill for a meal for two.   In target-driven environments, the reward could be more substantial, such as a European city break for the top performing sales person each quarter.

Present company perks

Apart from a salary at the end of the month, what else do individuals who work for you benefit from in terms of staff perks?

One Opus 4 client used an impending office relocation as the ideal opportunity to invite staff to ask what they would like to see in their new workplace.  All of the suggestions were put forward anonymously, then each was considered by the management.  This led to an on-site gymnasium being installed, a ‘game zone’ with PS4 and Xbox consoles and a ‘quiet area’, where people could go to unwind and de-stress.

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An inexpensive but effective way of improving wellbeing is to offer free fruit or smoothies for staff, and to promote a cycle to work scheme, offering big government-backed discounts for those purchasing bikes to cycle to work instead of travelling by car.

Be aware of staff ‘doing too much’

Ambitious employees often push themselves too hard.  It’s not uncommon for workers to do ten hour days as they struggle to cope with their workload.  Be aware of the tendency for these individuals to overwork by checking regularly on their workload and giving them the space to leave and start early or vary their routine by working flexibly.   Implementing a defined culture policy will help to prevent burning out your brightest sparks.

Business owners are beginning to understand the growing importance of culture.  Not only does it benefit your staff internally, but it can also give you a competitive edge.  When potential clients visit your workplace and see a well-designed, vibrant workplace with happy, productive inhabitants, they are more likely to want to identify and do business with you.  If your competitors don’t have this, it will put them at a distinct disadvantage.

Find out how we transformed the culture for SmartSearch – a class leading provider of anti-money laundering software – by watching this video case study.   Can we help you?  Call the office today on 0161 402 3400.